News in brief for June 8: Rock for People festival opens gates in Czechia

The top headlines for the Czech Republic on Thursday, June 8, 2023, updated throughout the day to keep you up to speed. Staff ČTK

Written by StaffČTK Published on 08.06.2023 07:08:00 (updated on 08.06.2023) Reading time: 6 minutes

CZECHS IN EU Czech consular services to expand in some EU cities for summer

Czechia is set to enhance its consular resources in some of its citizens’ most popular European tourist destinations this summer to help Czechs abroad. Consulate staff will be bolstered in Barcelona, and the government will establish dedicated consular offices in seaside resorts such as Burgas in Bulgaria, and Rijeka and Split in Croatia. 

The Foreign Ministry recommends registering with the voluntary travel system Drozd when abroad, which allows Czechia’s diplomatic service to provide people with up-to-date travel alerts and organize assistance to Czech citizens in the event of emergencies.

international relations Taiwanese foreign minister to make surprise visit to Prague

A report from Reuters has confirmed that Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu will participate in a security conference in the capital – named the European Values Summitt – due to be held on June 14. 

Reuters writes that it is “highly unconventional for a senior Taiwanese official to share the stage with European high-ranking officials,” thus making the presence of Taiwan's top diplomat at the event quite noteworthy. Taiwan, which China considers part of its territory, has no formal diplomatic relations with any European country (apart from the Vatican City).

UKRAINE Czech govt. approves new aid to Ukraine after dam disaster

The Czech government has officially approved assistance to Ukraine in response to the destruction of the Kakhovka dam. This decision was made during a meeting in Vimperk, South Bohemia, and confirmed by cabinet spokesman Václav Smolka. 

Prime Minister Petr Fiala announced that the Defence Ministry will contribute tanks for distributing drinking water, life buoys, and pumps for contaminated water. The national Fire Rescue Service also confirmed on Twitter their commitment to provide aid, including 50 floating pumps, 10 power generators, 100,000 flood bags and sacks, four boats, emergency survival supplies, and 50 temporary shelters.

politics ANO governor of Moravia-Silesia resigns after Pavel backing

Ivo Vondrák, who left the ANO movement after he had openly supported Petr Pavel against ANO leader Andrej Babiš in the presidential election earlier this year, has resigned as the governor of the Moravia-Silesia Region. 

According to Vondrák, there was a high likelihood that the area’s regional assembly would have dismissed him anyway. He told reporters after his resignation today that it is sad to him that it is not possible to say one's own opinion more than 30 years after the fall of the communist regime in the country.

PARLIAMENT Govt. prepares for long pension-reform debate

Minister of Labor Marian Jurečka has said he expects a lengthy debate in the Chamber of Deputies, starting today, on potential amendments to the government’s pension reform. The government’s proposal to reduce the amount of pension increases and tighten the conditions for early retirement have been criticized by opposition parties, such as ANO. The pension reform will take effect from early 2024, but may yet be amended. 

Jurečka in a press conference today said that in the past 18 months the average pension in Czechia has increased by 30 percent. He said that savings are “essential” to avoid a collapse in the system.

LABOR Unemployment falls marginally in Czechia

Unemployment in Czechia decreased by 0.1 percentage point month on month, to 3.5 percentage points in May according to newly released statistics by the Czech Labor Office. The number of vacant jobs, on the other hand, increased by roughly 1,200, to 285,700. 

Unemployment in the Ústí nad Labem region was highest, at 5.3 percent, whereas South Bohemia registered the lowest rate, at 2.5 percent. Separate Eurostat data (which uses a different methodology) found that Czechia’s unemployment level was 2.7 percent.

music Rock for People 2023 festival welcomes first visitors

The Rock for People music festival starts today in Hradec Králové. According to the organizers, 600 artists will perform there until June 11, and visitors can expect 130 concerts. 

This year, the festival’s budget year exceeded CZK 100 million for the first time. Big bands such as Slipknot, Muse, and The 1975 will perform at a former military airport in Hradec Králové. An accompanying program will include theaters, performers, exhibitions, and debates on sustainability. Four-day tickets cost around CZK 4,000.

LEGISLATION Pavel signs defense spending bill into law

President Petr Pavel has signed a government bill into law that requires the Czech Republic to spend at least 2 percent of GDP on defense annually starting in 2024. The legislation aims to provide stable funding for defense projects and modernization of the military. The law also allows for broader participation of Czech citizens in state defense.

The Czech Republic has committed to increasing its defense spending in NATO, and the new law mandates that defense spending be set at a minimum of 2 percent of GDP in the proposed budget. The law also includes provisions for financing long-term defense projects and expanding the definition of defense spending to include other ministries and offices

Police Search for missing Liberec boys and their father continues

Police in the Liberec region are searching for two boys, aged two and five, who were picked up by their father from a children's asylum center but were never returned. The father, identified as 45-year-old Pavel Pytloun, picked up the children for a walk and has since gone missing. The boys were placed in the asylum center based on a court decision that limited contact between the parents and children.

The police are seeking any information that could assist in locating the missing individuals. A description of the boys and their father has been provided, urging anyone with information to contact the emergency hotline.

CULTURE Prague Quadriennale beings today

The Prague Quadriennale (PQ), an international theater and scenography exhibition, is returning after a four-year hiatus. The event, taking place in Prague for eleven days, will feature programs from participants representing a hundred countries. The main venue will be the Holešovická tržnice, but spontaneous performances will also occur throughout the streets of Prague.

Students will showcase their work at DAMU, while the Trade Fair Palace will host quieter projects focused on theater architecture. The exhibitions in the main program will emphasize viewer interaction. The event will run until Sunday, June 18.

Tech US wants to stablish quantum computing center in Czechia

The Czech Republic has started negotiations with the United States regarding the establishment of a quantum computing center, reports E15. Discussions took place during the delegation led by Minister of Science, Research, and Innovation Helena Langšádlová and the Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies Markéta Pekarová Adamová (both from TOP 09) in Washington and Atlanta. The delegation, accompanied by representatives from Czech businesses and universities, addressed the topic, among others, at the White House.

Quantum machines are considered a crucial area of security, business, and scientific research for the future. Unlike classical computers, quantum computers have multiple states simultaneously, allowing them to perform certain types of operations much faster. Major powers, including the U.S., China, and organizations like NATO, are investing resources in this field and consider it a priority.

Environment Czech PM says Turów mine does not harm the local environment

Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala stated that the intergovernmental agreement from last year provides sufficient guarantees that mining in the Polish lignite mine Turów does not harm the local environment, reports Ekolist. He mentioned the agreed financial compensation and the construction of an underground wall to prevent water loss. Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki affirmed that Poland will not close the mine and will ensure its operation until 2044.

The Czech Republic will receive data on the functioning of the underground wall at the end of June. While the Czech-Polish agreement resolved the lawsuit and included compensation, environmental organizations argue that it does not adequately protect against water loss.

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